A flurry of bombshell revelations hit the governing Swapo party yesterday as President Hage Geingob cleared the way for aspiring leaders to kick-start intraparty campaigns. Geingob announced that he would step aside as party president before the 2024 general elections to allow the incoming Swapo vice president to take charge of the party and avoid two centres of power.
Before the press conference, however, vice presidential hopeful Frans Kapofi threw in the towel while party stalwart Jerry Ekandjo hurled a spanner in the works after the announcement.
Geingob said the deal to relinquish power was brokered when both the politburo and central committee allowed him to run unopposed at this year’s intraparty elections.
“It is now time to hit the road and rally the masses so that come the elective congress in November, democracy will prevail and the people will choose a new cohort of cadres to take the Swapo party into a new era,” Geingob told the now nine Swapo candidates aspiring to become next party leaders.
The ruling party yesterday also announced 13 rules that will guide campaigns ahead of the party’s elective congress slated for November. In a first-of-its-kind rule, the ruling party will not allow its contenders to run their campaigns in public. Those contesting for the top four positions will address delegates on the same dates to be announced to level the playing field.
The party will also not allow “de-campaigning” of another candidate whether on social media or via press releases. Transgressors will be disqualified, read the rules delivered by home affairs minister Albert Kawana yesterday.
The rules would also prohibit candidates from corruptly promising money or land to congress delegates, an offence that will result in his or her withdrawal from consideration.
The party was accused of benefitting from ill-gotten gains of those accused in the sprawling Fishrot corruption saga.
Incumbent Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, and environment minister Pohamba Shifeta are against each other in the race for the party’s vice presidency (VP).
Defence minister Kapofi yesterday pulled out of the race at the last minute. Attempts to get comment
from Kapofi as to the reasons for his withdrawal proved futile. Youthful Oshikoto coordinator Armas Amukwiyu will square off against veteran incumbent Sophia Shaningwa for the secretary general (SG) position.
Former cabinet minister Uahekua Herunga, Lucia Witbooi, Evelyn Nawases-Taeyele and Kavango West party coordinator David Hamutenya will contest for the deputy secretary general (DSG) position.
Geingob said he trust that the upcoming internal campaign will be conducted in the spirit of unity.
“We know that Swapo is the premier political party in Namibia and the frenzy that has surrounded our politburo and central committee meetings will only increase because the whole country is interested in Swapo, even our enemies and those that claim to hate us,” he said.
“As I have said before, let us play the ball and not the individual. You are not campaigning against enemies and adversaries. You are campaigning to articulate to the masses, why you are the most suitable candidates to lead the Swapo party,” Geingob said.
He said personal attacks are unnecessary since ultimately, as disciplined and revolutionary cadres, party leaders are all expected to support the winners and assist them in leading the party to victory in the 2024 national elections and beyond.
“As for me, although I am unopposed, I too, will step aside at the right occasion, to hand over the reins to the cadre who will be entrusted to lead the Swapo party as its president,” Geingob said.
Meanwhile, Swapo veteran Ekandjo, through his lawyer Richard Metcalfe, yesterday threatened legal action against the party if he is not included as a candidate for the vice president’s position.
Ekandjo said accepting Tom Alweendo and Kapofi in the race for vice president, while they have not “served even one day” as central committee members, violated party rules.
Ekandjo came third in the election for candidates, behind Pohamba Shifeta and Kapofi, who quit the race earlier yesterday.
He said he would commence campaigning for election as vice president of the party at the scheduled election in the November congress as of today.